Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort – Adults Only
What We Love
- On-site art gallery (just outside the restaurant) features work by local artists and craftspeople
- Two Japanese hot baths are serene spots to unwind and stargaze
- The impressive library, stocked with 1,200 books, is a bibliophile's heaven
What To Know
- This is an adults-only resort
- The ocean views are impressive but distant
- There are two identical pool areas—one is clothing-optional, the other for the more modest
- Adults Only
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Built in 1975 by Hollywood producer Lawrence Spector with the profits from the hugely successful motorcycle classic Easy Rider, these cedar-and-redwood cabins were designed to blend into and be at one with the landscape. A total renovation in 2008 preserved the high-end, all-natural ’70s aesthetic (think stone fireplaces and light flooding through huge windows) while updating the property with modern necessities. Ventana’s 60 rustic-chic guest rooms are done up in restful colors of sage, russet, and cream with huge King beds and river rock fireplaces that bring the natural world inside, as well as big windows and decks that look out onto California’s most spectacular scenery—towering redwoods, craggy canyons, and white-capped waves. Spa-like bathrooms encourage relaxation with deep soaking tubs and rainfall shower heads. The luxury-camp-for-adults appeal takes hold quickly here. Overlooking a stretch of wild and unspoiled Big Sur coastline where the Santa Lucia range plunges into the Pacific, Ventana Inn & Spa sits on 243 wooded acres some 1,200 feet above the pounding surf. The resort’s trails meander through forests teeming with deer, falcon, fox, and wild turkey. The rocky shores reveal Mother Nature’s water-washed treasures to beachcombers, and cedar-walled Japanese hot tubs open to blue skies or starry nights. Tuck into locally sourced coastal dishes at The Restaurant at Ventana, where the sweeping Pacific Ocean views are just as good as the fresh fare.
In the Area
The Henry Miller Library has a display of novelist Henry Miller’s original manuscripts. Check ahead for a schedule of outdoor concerts by the likes of Philip Glass and Arcade Fire. Point Sur Lighthouse — dramatically positioned on a volcanic rock high above the Pacific — is worth the walk. The Ambrosia Burger on the deck of 1940s Nepenthe restaurant, in a cliffside house once owned by Orson Welles and his bride Rita Hayworth, is aptly named and worth the wait, which can be quite long on weekends. Hunks of California jade wash up at Jade Cove, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Big Sur coast. Jade colors range from the traditional green to light blue to pure black. Low tide is the best time to look. The Coast Gallery, established in 1958 in a historic house nestled in Redwood Canyon (1,000 feet above sea level with uninterrupted views of Big Sur and the headland), is a great place to buy art.
How to Get There
Certain glamping sites are absolutely beautiful. Others are a little too close to each other, the bathrooms and the road. The ease of having hot water, electricity, coolers and smore kits waiting for you in the woods can not be emphasized enough -- especially for those of us who just want to fly in and experience the woods without having to precision pack the car with thousands of dollars of gear.
It is painfully apparent that this resort really struggles with its staffing. Staff just isn't at a luxury resort level. Bathrooms aren't as clean as they should be, service isn't as polished as it should be (if you can find someone to help you) and the overall experience suffers due to poor customer service.
We stayed at Ventana from 16-18 October and ran into issues from the moment we checked in:
- Check in clerk was dismissive and the software wasn't working so we waited 15minutes on our chairs to finish the process (no apologies, no explanation, nothing)
- Wifi was not working during our entire stay and there was no phone coverage in the area. We did not receive a single letter or phone call from hotel staff to explain why Wifi wasn't working or when we should expect it to work again
- The hotel took shocking amounts of payments and pre-authorisations on my credit card, on a daily basis, to the point where they maxed it out. I spoke to reception about this but no solution was offered. The only explanation I received was that their system automatically charges these amounts (despite the fact that the room was prepaid).
- The hotel sends you a pre-arrival checklist to ask about your preferences (newspaper, experiences, etc.) The newspaper we received wasn't the one we pre-ordered and the hotel staff did not follow up about the other experiences we expressed an interest in
- We were unable to book treatment at the spa because nobody in the hotel could send us a spa menu. We asked for it on the phone and it never came. We then asked for it at reception the following day and we were told it would be sent to our room. But nothing came.
- It's been a month since our check-out and the hotel just decided to charge my card again for their daily 'experience fee' which they had apparently forgotten (despite the fact that they have given me their 'final' invoice when I checked out).
I complained at the hotel, called the hotel numerous times (you can't even call reception, it's a Hyatt hotel chain helpline that answers after you hold for about 10minutes) to complain, and received absolutely 0 follow up from them.
If you want to treat yourself to a high-end soothing luxurious resort, I would strongly advise against opting for Ventana. The staff treats you as if they don't have time for you and they have absolutely no clue about what a luxurious or soothing experience looks like.
Stayed at Ventana for my wedding weekend. Sadly the poor staff, especially Jill and JoJo at the Sur House completely ruined the stay. The resort is overpriced and I would avoid at all cost. On a positive note, the location is fantastic, but Ventana found a way to make my stay less than enjoyable.